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What is the difference between Shareware and Freeware?

Shareware is software that is distributed freely, but usually with some kind of limitation, or with the request of a donation to be made. The software developer does not intend to “give away” a fully-functioning unlimited-use version of the software. If the software is a fully-functioning version, the developer may be relying on your making a donation so that he can continue development of the product. Often, shareware is intended to be only a trial version of software. The software may possibly expire after a stated trial period, such as 30 days for example, after which point a payment may be needed to “unlock” an unlimited version with no expiration date. Or the software distributed as shareware may be a scaled down or limited sample of a more fully-featured version of the product. The shareware version may omit certain key features, or limit the number of times you can execute a key feature, or it might print documents with a watermark indicating this is sample or demo version of the software, to discourage you from using the software other than for purposes of evaluation. The developer hopes that after trying out the limited version, you will be enticed to later purchase the full-featured version.

Freeware, on the other hand, is as the name implies free software. The developer does not expect any payment for the software, nor is the software intended to be used only for a limited time. Key features of the software will not be disabled nor limited, although the developer may also offer another more fully-featured or “premium” version of the software at a cost. Freeware may sometimes include ads that are displayed as you use the product.